The “reconciliation” process that would have allowed Republicans to eliminate Obamacare’s forced abortion coverage mandate and $500 million tax dollars going to Planned Parenthood ends Sept. 30. The GOP has failed to secure majority support in the U.S. Senate after Sen. Susan Collins of Maine effectively killed the bill when she announced her opposition Sept. 25.
The bill, which President Donald Trump has promised to sign, has much stronger Republican support in the House than in the Senate. Republican Senators John McCain of Arizona and Rand Paul of Kentucky announced earlier that they would not vote for the plan, leaving the bill on the verge of collapse.
Senators Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) and Bill Cassidy (Louisiana), had revamped their last-hope legislation to appeal directly to Collins and Senator Lisa Murkowski (Alaska).
Cassidy and Graham’s revision defined Murkowski’s state as well as Arizona and Kentucky as “high-spending, low-density,” giving them more federal aid. Cassidy released figures that show Alaska receiving three percent more federal funds and Maine getting 43 percent more. “Alaska, Arizona, Maine and Kentucky are big winners in the Healthcare proposal,” Trump tweeted Sept. 24.
But Collins’ opposition ensured that there would not be enough votes to pass the bill because of the Republican defections despite their 52-48 majority in the Senate.
The last-minute revision was very close to the previous Graham-Cassidy bill. One significant revision allowed states to determine health insurance standards without federal waivers. That meant states could allow insurers to omit previously required benefits, such as mental health care and drug addiction treatment.
Under the new revision, states may also set their own out-of-pocket (deductible) limits for coverage. And the revision gives decision-making authority to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, whereas the original Graham-Cassidy bill gave that authority to the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Collins objected after reviewing a Congressional Budget Office report that predicted millions of Americans would lose insurance coverage by 2026 under the plan.
Republican senators Ted Cruz (Texas), and Mike Lee (Utah), both wanted “technical changes” to the bill, saying states need to be able to get out of more Obamacare regulations.
White House director of legislative affairs Marc Short has confirmed that a vote is scheduled for before Oct. 1 (after The Interim went to press).
Rand Paul has stood against the bill from the start, saying he wants nothing less than complete repeal of Obamacare.
Conservatives have expressed frustration and disappointment in the Republican-controlled House, Senate and presidency as numerous attempts to defund Planned Parenthood failed because of McCain, Murkowski, and Collins.
Liberals continued to criticize the bill. Minority Leader Senator Chuck Schumer (New York) called the bill “dangerous” and a “red siren moment for the entire country.” “Lives are at stake,” Planned Parenthood said in a Sept. 23 fundraising email about the bill.
Despite McCain giving his word that he would support Graham-Cassidy if Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey supported the bill, the senator came out against Sept. 22.
Besides defunding Planned Parenthood for one year and eliminating Obamacare’s forced abortion coverage mandate, the legislation would transfer money allocated by Obamacare for Medicaid expansion and federal subsidies to the states.
Graham thought his bill was more likely to pass than previous attempts because it puts states in the driver’s seat. “I believe that most Republicans like the idea of state-controlled healthcare versus Washington D.C.-controlled healthcare,” he said.
A longer version of this article originally appeared Sept. 26 at LifeSiteNews and is used with permission.